Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gardening and Small group

My back hurts. I spent the whole day working on landscaping. Melissa Belford joined me bright and early this morning and we started with a run to Lowes and Gertens for some plants and limestone. We got the front garden all cleaned up, repositioned and planted. Unfortunately we underestimated how much limestone we'd need to get for the walkway. I'll have to go back and get more in order to complete our currently dead-end walkway. Melissa left around lunch time to go to work and I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing a few more things in the front and planting in the back garden. Basically, there was a large landscaped area in the front and the back with perennials already existing. Both gardens needed cleaned up, many things needed to get pulled and trashed or pulled and divided, or pulled and put somewhere else. Some things from the back moved to the front, and vise versa. I'll have to post pictures after I finish the front walkway.

We had our monthly small group social tonight (we do a study 3 weeks, and social on the last week of the month). This was our first official small group gathering at the new house, though most of the group had already been here at some point helping us move and work on projects. We grilled pizzas (of course!) and they were delicious. It was a cool evening, so we were glad to also have a bonfire going in the back yard.

We've posted it here before, but if you're new to our blog and haven't read about our grilled pizzas before, you can get the recipe here. It's always a crowd pleaser.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend away

We had the opportunity to escape to the famous "Up North" that everyone always talks about. It's funny, when we lived in Michigan, people were going there all the time, and it's no different in Minnesota. In this case, "Up North" was actually "Up North-East" because we ended up in Wisconsin. Our friends, Wayne and Bev own a beautiful cabin on Long Lake and invited us to join them.

Because David had to work this weekend, we didn't get to leave until after church. We were only on vacation for about 24 hours, but it was such a relaxing time that it felt longer. Even though it was pretty cool and gloomy, we started our visit with a pontoon ride along a small portion of the lake. The fall colors were beautiful. David and I realized that aside from riding the water ferry at Disney World, we're pretty sure that was our first time going boating as a married couple. That's sad; we've been married for 7 years!

After the boat ride, we headed into town to eat dinner at a local Mexican restaraunt (of course!). The Tilapia was incredible. When we got back to the house, we took a dip in the hot tub for a while, followed by an hour or so at the ping pong table (also a marriage-first, surprisingly enough). I don't think I've played ping pong in about 15 years. It was fun, and the longer we played, the better we got.

This morning was still cool, but the sun was out. We were honored to take the last pontoon ride of the season as Wayne took the boat down the lake to have it winterized. The sunlight really brought out the colors in the trees, although I don't think the camera quite captured it.

Thank you so much, Wayne and Bev for inviting us! We had an absolutely wonderful time! And thank you Stu, Sadie, and Emily for stopping in to check on Allie:-)

I think we found our problem!

We've been having dryer problems. We've owned the house for a month now and I haven't been able to do laundry at home yet... until tonight:-) After the new dryer was installed last week and the clothes still were not drying, we finally concluded that the vent was plugged (big duh, I know!). David picked up one of those long snakey things that's meant to clean the vent, but we couldn't get it to push through. We finally figured out how to prop the shop vac on top of a ladder, attached all the extensions, and sent the hose through the vent to suck out what we'd been unsuccessful pushing through. I think we found our problem; what do you think?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I just had the most ridiculous thing happen to me. I was sitting at home watching tv and the doorbell rang. I went to the door, holding the dog's collar so she won't run out the door and I'm greeted by a girl passing out fliers for someone running for state representative. I open the door and she says, "Hello there, is your mom or dad home?" REALLY?!?! Come on! REALLY?!? I'm 30 years old and she thinks I still live with my mom and dad? I said "I'm an adult." "Wow, really, what's your secret?" Then she tells me that she is 27. What's that? She's 3 years younger than me and she mistook me for a minor? I could tell she was embarrased because she couldn't get out a complete sentence after that and would not stop talking about how young I look. I know many of our more "mature" readers would find this to be the utmost compliment, but I don't. It happens all the time (but usually only when I'm not around David- being with him makes me look older I guess.)

When I was student teaching in 2nd grade as a 21 year old, a substitute in the building mistook me for a second grader. She thought the class was walking down the hall by themselves without supervision. A class of 8 year olds. I was 21. Come on, people!

Actually there was this one time that we got a pretty good laugh from one of these experiences. It happened right before David and I started dating. Several of us were driving back from a friend's wedding in Ohio and we stopped at McDonalds for dinner. I only had a couple of bucks and wasn't terribly hungry, so I decided to get a happy meal. (This was before the value menu). David was behind me in line and offered to give me more money, but I declined. The cashier (a teenager) completed my order and I went to go get my drink. David then stepped up to give his order and the cashier asked, "Is that your daughter?" He said, "How old do you think she.... Wait, how old do you think I am?!?" The cashier guessed him to be in his late 30's and me in my early teens. We were 22 and 23 at the time.

Lesson learned: If I want people to recognize me for my true age, I guess I can't even take Saturday mornings off from wearing make-up. Without it, I apparently look like a child. Mascara and lipstick, here I come...

How about you? Have you ever had someone incorrectly guess your age by an embarrassing margin?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome to our first home tour

Come on in, and don't forget to sign the guestbook!

To your right you'll find the 1/2 bath. See post below for before and after pictures.

To your left you'll find a living room that hasn't been finished yet. Don't go in there. All you'll find is boxes, a vacuum cleaner, and a couple of other random things.

Continue to the right down the short hall and you've come to the kitchen/family room area.

This picture is taken from the family room. See the post below for before and after pictures. The doorway to the right takes you to the 3 seasons porch which leads to the deck. The porch isn't ready for you to see it yet. It's full of tools and boxes right now. Maybe another time.

Hey, check out that nice new microwave! All it needs now is a stainless steel oven/range to match (and refrigerator and dishwasher...).

Through that entryway, you'll come to the dining room. See the post below to see before and after pictures of it. See that stack of boxes in the back? That's the living room; I told you not to go in there:-)

And that's the main floor, which is all I can let you see so far. There's much work yet to be done upstairs and in the basement. Until next time!

Half bath before and after

1/2 Bath before: wobbly pedestal sink, no mirror.

1/2 bath after: 36" vanity, granite top, new fixtures, and a mirror. New light fixture is yet to come... some day.

Dining Room before and after

Dining Room before: dark dungeon, no light,
and two wooden shelves that had been painted around multiple times...

Dining room after: (the backlight from the window still makes it look kind of dark, but it isn't really.)
Window treatments have been ordered, but the drapes are backordered and we may not get them until the end of October. We'll have the valances in the mean time. They come in tomorrow. I didn't feel like waiting to take the picture. So here's the dining room without them:-)

Family Room- Before and After

Family room before: orange you glad we re-painted?

Family Room after:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More minor accomplishments

1. We have installed a vanity and new sink in the main floor bathroom to replace the pedestal sink that was previously there. Pictures to come once the room is completely finished.

2. Family room/informal dining room/kitchen/entry way are finished except for hanging pictures and curtains. I may post pictures prior to the curtains because I haven't found anything that I love yet. It may take me a while...

3. Lots of spackle, sanding, and 2 coats of paint made David's downstairs office ready to move in to. The desk and computer are set up, but the home studio part of his office is still yet to be completed.

4. As previously posted, the dining room walls are now finished, and I've got the china hutch almost completely settled. Once that's finished, we can move the table in and call that room done (except for the curtains... I hate picking out curtains!)

5. The rain and cooler temperatures finally made mowing necessary, so David spent a couple of hours outside yesterday reclaiming the back yard of many of the weeds that tend to overtake a yard when the house has been in foreclosure.

This week's goals:
1. Hang pictures
2. Finish downstairs bathroom
3. Finish settling dining room and living room
4. Hang curtains in bedrooms (I already have those curtains; I just need the rods)
5. Address the overgrown landscaping outside
6. Tackle the maze of boxes in the basement rec room. (Most of which are intended for storage)

The next time I post, I should have some before/after pictures for several rooms.

A Must See

My big project for Friday was finally putting the second coat of paint on in the dining room so we can unpack and finish that room. I was half-way through with cutting in (prior to rolling) when I realized I was going to need a reward to work for. This was my umteenth time painting and my painting muscles were tired. I would need a little more than the sense of accomplishment and completion to keep me going that day. Earlier in the week, I'd seen Regis and Kelly interview Ricky Gervais about a movie I'd never heard anything about, called "Ghost Town." The 30 second clip they played had me laughing already and I decided immediately that this was a movie that I would enjoy. So on Friday, as I was painting, I "asked" David if he would take me to a movie if I finished the dining room. Suddenly I had something bigger to work towards: a night of entertainment:-)

Here we were in a theater with no more than 15 other people on opening night for "Ghost Town," wondering if we'd made a mistake in our movie choice. Did the rest of the movie watchers know something we didn't? I'm afraid it was the other way around my friends, because this movie was hilarious. We both laughed so hard (me a little more than David, I admit) that it actually produced a tear in my right eye at one point. I've needed a good laugh for some time now, and this did the trick.

You can view a trailer here and find out more about the movie for yourself. I don't usually publicly recommend movies because I don't want to be blamed if you don't like it, but I'm pretty confident that if you like comedies (of the cleaner variety), you will enjoy this movie.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still here...

I know we spoiled you last week with our daily updates and now we've left you hungry for more. So sorry about that.

Here's the thing. Our Internet/cable doesn't get installed until tomorrow (on a Sunday? who knew!), so in the mean time we've been "borrowing" from someone in the neighborhood. Their Internet is sketchy at best, so it's been tough to stay connected long enough to write a post. Even now as I type this, there's risk of losing it all and getting disconnected, but you are all worth the effort at least.

Here's the other thing. Back when we were posting daily, we were feeling such a sense of accomplishment (and exhaustion) because we were getting major projects done with the help of David's parents. This week we've graduated to unpacking. I suppose I could have posted every day and given you a tally of how many boxes I emptied, but that somehow felt small after the previous posts. All excuses, I know. And I apologize.

So now to make up for it, I'm going to write a random list of any highlights, semi-highlights, and minor accomplishments from the past week. Here goes:

1. (Major accomplishment) I (Melissa) led worship for the very first time last Sunday when David had to lead at our Hudson, WI campus. I'd never done this before and was very nervous about the whole thing, but was pleasantly surprised and felt like it went well. I told David that I would like him to mentor/train me to be able to develop that some more.

2. Unpacking- the kitchen cupboards are just how I want them (I think...), however the counter tops have a never-ending clutter I don't seem to know what to do with.

3. Getting dressed in the morning got easier after spending the entire afternoon Thursday unpacking and organizing our GIGANTIC master closet. I've never had space for all season's clothes to be out at one time. It's fantastic; especially this time of year.

4. Redbox has become my best friend since we don't have cable yet. We've rented many a movie this week for our evening wind-down (and sometimes morning wind-up, I admit.)

5. Last night we collected the rest of our belongings (freezer, piano, and grill) from their various locations of storage and are pleased to announce that we are officially out of storage (except for our dining room table leaves that are still hiding under the Whitney's guest bed). After moving the heavy things, we (Muellers, Shivers, and us) enjoyed half-price appetizers at Applebees after 9:00.

6. Our dryer doesn't work and we still haven't gotten around to figuring out a solution for that problem, so I spent the day at the Whitney's on Friday catching up on all the laundry that's accumulated. My goal is to solve this dilemma before the next round of laundry.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Take care!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Renovation Update #6

In a new house, it seems like it takes forever to get internet and cable and the like installed, and in our case it hasn't been any different. Our apologies for the delay in this post but internet is hard to come by at the moment.

There have been many things that we could write about that have happened, but tonight we'll focus on two of them. We finally have almost everything out of the storage unit thanks to our friends Shane McCoy and Jimmy Fry. We took a trip with the Expedition, Gafford's parents van, Jimmy's truck, Shane's Toyota SUV and the church trailer and loaded up on Friday night. During our stay at the storage unit we discovered that Shane is truly the most efficient packer on the planet. He packed what would have taken us 2 trips with the trailer into only 1 trip. I asked him if he was hearing the music for Tetris in his head while he was packing, and he admitted that he does occasionally hear the music while he's working. So, the trailer was half full, and we then picked up the washer to move it to the trailer and look at what we found...

A 2 ft. or so garden snake slithered out from under the washer to the delight of most everyone at the unit, and we learned that Shane is quite the snake charmer with a hockey stick. Jimmy also took a turn at snake charming as he convinced the snake to latch on to the nearest pole Jimmy could find and he hurled the snake back into the wild jungles of Cottage Grove. We thought that we filled each of the holes in the storage unit pretty well, but I guess not quite well enough. Who knows, as we're unpacking boxes what glorious presents we will find that decided to make our belongings home for the past months.

Other than the fun with reptiles, we have been working on replacing the pedestal sink on the main floor. When we had the house inspected, we learned that the sink leaked and we dove in to see what needed to be fixed. Dad and Wayne got the ball rolling a couple of days ago, and after a few days of trying to find the problem we just decided to replace the sink altogether and put in a vanity. The vanity is in place and the sink is just outside the door at the moment, but I got to experience my first bit of plumbing. (David writing here by the way...) I had heard that "sweating copper" was a good bit of fun, so we decided to try and find another way to get plumbing where we needed it using flexible steel reinforced tubing. I must say that this stuff is the way to go! I don't know if you can plumb a whole house with it or not (i'm guessing not) but so much easier to work with when you're talking about lengths of 36 inches or less. We have the water hoses set and running into the new vanity and now we just need to pick out a fixture to finish out the ensemble. It looks great, but for starters, here is a picture of the recently disassembled sink.
That's it for now. We're off to embark on another renovation adventure! More to come!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Renovation update #5

"Then we set out to destroy what we had built up..."

Our 1989 Microwave needed replacing. The duct tape holding the handle was our first clue. So we ordered a microwave from Home Depot that was meant to be delivered yesterday. Our one chore in preparation was to remove the relic currently hanging on the wall. A simple task; one we have done before in previous houses. A "simple" task that ended up consuming the majority of the day and Dad Gafford's sanity. I could go into great detail describing the difficulty of removing the old microwave, but I'm too tired for that. I'll skip to the point and tell you that the problem turned out to be that instead of installing the microwave "shell" as instructed, when the house was built, and there were only studs in the walls, they just screwed all the screws right into any stud they could find. The solution: Dad had to cut holes in the freshly spackled, sanded, primed, and painted dining room wall in order to use a hacksaw blade to cut off the screws that were impossible to access from the front. Wayne and Bev Whitney arrived just in time to reinforce the idea of brute force and gave us the courage to have at it with a saw.

Here is Dad investigating when the dining room holes were still small...Here's the old microwave after much banging and some disassembling...
Here's the dining room wall, with more spackle and ready to be sanded, primed, and painted all over again.

To add insult to injury, our Home Depot microwave scheduled to be delivered yesterday never arrived. Let's just say there was some "confusion" with our order and the microwave was not actually ordered but they never thought to call and inform us. Later in the evening after a different microwave was purchased at Menards, upon opening the box, a huge dent was discovered as a result of a forklift in the store. That item was returned, refund was issued. Like the old saying goes, "third time's the charm." The final microwave was purchased at Best Buy and looks beautiful... A special thanks to all who were involved in the microwave miracle of 2008. I'd add a picture of the new microwave, but I'm in bed right now and it's an awfully long way to the kitchen right now. Maybe another time:-)

We actually meant to blog these events last night, but were having problems accessing internet. So now we're a day behind. But this way we can give you a teaser about what you'll find in the next post. Tomorrow, come back to read about the cold-blooded creature that invaded the storage unit!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Renovation update #4

What a day! We got an unbelievable amount done, but boy are we exhausted. We had many helpers throughout the day working on a variety of things. I'm not sure if I can remember everything, but I'll try. Dave and Melissa Belford (our name twins) came first thing this morning to put the second coat of paint in the basement. They did an awesome job and that room looks completely different now. It still needs new carpet and other miscellaneous things, but the paint made a huge difference. About the same time, Dan and Marcie Berglund arrived and spent most of the day with us; Dan helping David bring trailer-loads of our belongings in from the various locations that they've been stored, and Marcie assisting in painting, priming, and sanding. Here is Marcie working on sanding the "pink room" (soon to be blue room).

Bev Whitney helped unpack some kitchen boxes and assisted Mom Gafford and Emily Mueller in the two coats of primer that were required in the dining room (below). Emily stayed busy priming, because she was later assigned to the pink room to throw two more coats of primer on the walls.
Later in the afternoon, Jonathan Haage joined David, Dan, and Dad Gafford in moving boxes, etc. We took a break around 5:30 for pizza and then the "real" fun began. Erik Fair, Bryan Mueller, Pastor Henry, Jillayne Berg, and Stu and Sadie Johnson joined to move at least 4 more loads from the storage unit. Here are the guys maneuvering the chest of drawers up the stairway to the master bedroom.

At the end of the evening we all collapsed on our couches and recliners, which was a big upgrade from the lawn chairs we've been sitting in since last Thursday. And I'm pleased to share that I'm typing this blog from our bed, which is actually more than just a mattress on the floor (like it's been since last Thursday). It's starting to finally feel like home. I think even Allie is beginning to realize this fact. Doesn't she look cozy snuggled up on top of the bed? Home sweet home at last!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Renovation update #3

David posting here because the rest of the team is already in bed. I went to work today while mom, dad, and Melissa toiled endlessly here at home. They tackled the final coats of paint in the family room and the living room, sanded and prepped the dining room that needed spackle on 50% or more of the wall from wallpaper remnants, and much more.

When we started prepping the dining room, I noticed that the walls were a little strange on the bottom half, and upon further inspection we determined that a prior tenant tore the wallpaper off of the wall, and in doing so also tore all of the paper off of the drywall in the process. They then just painted the raw drywall instead of the smooth paper and left us a mess to clean up when we tried to smooth out the wall. I believe that yesterday dad took about 3 hours to spackle the dining room, and another 3 hours to sand it back down to a flat surface today.

Dave and Melissa Belford come and blessed us with their presence and painted the rec room in the basement in a record 2 hour time period. As I type this, i'm sitting in front of the family room wall looking at our first finished room, and it's starting to feel like home. As I look into the kitchen and see the mess that we get to clean up before we start moving in tomorrow, I realize that I am going to need an early start in the morning to get this all finished in time, so I am out. Moving day tomorrow! If you're in the area, give me a call if you know how! If you don't, just lift your furniture and move it around your house a few times to feel like you helped out for the evening. :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Renovation update #2

(Jeff Habel putting the final board in place in the master bedroom.
Thanks again for all your expertise!)
Finish wood floor in master bedroom.... check.
Finish priming the family room.... check.
Prime the basement.... check.
Remove hundreds of nails, tacks, staples, and pins from the walls... check.
Spackle living room, dining room, and 2 bedrooms.... check.
Paint the family room.... check.
Install ceiling fan and dining room chandelier... check.

We're pretty pooped. We better retire soon; tomorrow will be another full day. We're hoping to move the furniture in Wednesday evening. Sleep tight; we'll update more tomorrow.